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This is what Ontario’s new rent control rules could mean for the housing market

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Photo: James Bombales

Last week, the Ontario government announced that, effective immediately, rent control rules will no longer apply to new housing units added to the province’s rental market.

The move was met with backlash from some affordable housing advocates, while many industry associations, including the Ontario Real Estate Association and the Toronto Real Estate Board, praised the decision. It largely reversed the primary aspects of the Wynne government’s April 2017 Fair Housing Plan.

Those against rent control argue that it discourages the construction of purpose-built rental units, cutting into an already low level of supply in a time when more and more people are looking to rent.

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“Rent control is not good policy, price controls in any industry typically result in unintended consequences,” writes Bullpen Research & Consulting president Ben Myers, in a recent analysis of the decision.

According to Myers, the only way to avoid huge jumps in rental rates is to ensure there are as many rental units available as possible.

While he acknowledges that there were 2,876 purpose-built rental starts in 2018 — the highest level since 1993 — Myers says there are more factors at play in the jump in units than just rent control.

“There are several reasons that many of these projects moved forward this year,” he writes. “Population growth in Ontario is at a 30-year high, the mortgage stress test and higher rates have reduced ownership demand and increased rental demand.”

Ultimately, Myers doesn’t believe that removing rent control on new units will have a huge effect on the level of purpose-built rental supply in the Ontario housing market.

“This change won’t significantly move the needle on new purpose-built rental supply,” he writes. “If I had to put a number on it, I’d say we’ll get 500 to 1,000 more rental apartment starts per year because of the elimination of rent control over the next five years.”

But he does believe that the decision could lead to an increase in investors choosing to rent out condo units, which could provide much needed supply to a tight rental market.

“The biggest impact as a result of this move will be keeping private investors interested in buying pre-construction condos to lease out,” he writes. “Condo investors have been responsible for over 75 percent of all new rental supply for the past 20 years in the GTA and without them, rental rates in the GTA would be much, much worse.”

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New home? Prepare for the unexpected

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(NC) Buying a house, getting married or having your first baby are all major life events that are likely to affect your finances. But whether you’re in the midst of a major life event or not, it’s important to check in on your finances regularly to maintain good financial health.

Your financial health encompasses things like your spending, savings, borrowing and future financial plans. It also means dedicating a set amount of savings for unexpected future events. It can even include optional credit protection insurance, such as TD protection plans, to help cover your debt balances in case of death, a covered critical illness or total disability.

Even though it can be tough to think about the unexpected, life is unpredictable and it’s important to plan for the unexpected. Find more information at td.com.

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Mortgage pitfalls to avoid

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(NC) Throughout life, you may have moments where you’ll make a large purchase or invest in a costly item, like your family home. But whether you’re in the market for your first new property or already have a mortgage, leaving this asset unprotected can be costly.   

Insuring your housing financial debt, as well as debt for other big-ticket items like a new boat for your lakefront cottage or keepsake jewelry like an engagement ring, is a smart investment in your well-being.

To help protect your debt balances like a mortgage, your bank may have optional credit protection insurance products.

“Your home is one of your biggest assets, yet illness can happen at any stage of life. Worrying about your mortgage when the focus should be on health isn’t a situation anyone would wish for,” explains Shirley Malloy, vice president at TD. “Fortunately, we offer mortgage protection to provide coverage for your outstanding balance should you face a covered critical health event.”

Mortgage protection can be purchased whether you’re in the process of applying for a mortgage or already have a home financing solution. But what about protection options for credit card debt?

“Given the unprecedented circumstances of this year, many Canadians are trying to plan for the unexpected to protect themselves and their finances,” says Malloy. “TD balance protection plus is an optional product designed to help you deal with your credit card payment obligations in the event of a covered event, such as loss of employment.”

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Is your internet too slow? It’s probably not you

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(NC) We all know the aggravation of a school lesson that just won’t stop freezing or the family video call that looks more like a photo montage. And, as we adjust to the impact of COVID-19 on our day-to-day, that slow connection can have frustrating consequences.

Working from home and learning remotely, both need fast, stable internet, something not enough Canadians have yet. Even if you have fast devices in your home, if the infrastructure in your area is not optimal, your connection won’t be either.

Right now, cities have the infrastructure needed to ensure access. But rural and remote communities are hugely underserved, with fewer than half having high-speed internet, and fewer than a third of households on reservations have high-speed connections.

Fortunately, change is coming. The Universal Broadband Fund is backing projects across Canada right now to ensure the reliable, high-speed internet connections families need to work, study, access services online, and safely stay in touch with each other.

The fund existed before COVID, but as a response to the pandemic, its timetable has been moved up by four years to a target of 98 per cent of Canadians with high-speed internet access by 2026. With the faster pace, at least 90 per cent of us should be connected by the end of 2021.

The fund is focused on improvements in rural and remote communities across Canada to fix the disconnect between internet access for urban and rural households.  This means more remote work opportunities, better access to remote learning and safer access to healthcare, no matter where you live.

It’s not just for good connections at home, either. The improvements mean much better access to mobile networks on highways between remote communities. The result is better, safer navigation and access to emergency services for your family, even on the road in the middle of nowhere. Mobile projects will be focused on serving Indigenous communities and the roads leading to them.

The shape these improvements will take in your area will depend on where you live. Canada is huge, and its communities are hugely diverse, with diverse needs. Keep an eye out for local projects — they’re a small part of something much bigger.

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